Sprint Bulks Up on Mobile Advertising with Handmark Acquisition

Michael Teague  |

In a move that points to how widespread and impacted the competition for mobile advertising dollars has and will continue to become, on Monday the nation’s third largest provider of wireless services Sprint Nextel (S) announced the acquisition of the Kansas City, Missouri-based Handmark, Inc.

Handmark’s subsidiary One Louder is a developer of mobile apps, and having done prior work for companies such as Twitter, with TweetCaste, Facebook (FB) with FriendCaster, and CBS sports among others, the company offers Sprint a much-needed foothold in an increasingly device-oriented marketplace.

Sprint sees One Louder as being the perfect supplement to its Pinsight Media+ service that provides mobile marketing data and analysis to advertisers. Kansas City is known to have a thriving tech scene, and according to Sprint’s press release on Monday, the company has spent a significant amount of time fostering relationships with startups in the area, in order to “spur growth and establish the area as a hub for entrepreneurism and innovation.”

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The wireless carrier’s Vice President for New Ventures, Mike Cooley, was not only blatant about the company’s focus on mobile, but also overtly confident, when he described the acquisition as an “exciting move as we position Sprint for market leadership in emerging mobile products and services”. Handmark and Sprint already have an established working relationship, and the startup’s staff and location will remain unchanged after the merger.

The news arrives not only as Sprint is in the midst of attempting to purchase the smaller 4G wireless firm Clearwire (CLWR), and furthermore is itself the subject of competing buyout bids from Dish Network (DISH) and the Japanese wireless firm SoftBank.

Crest Financial, Clearwire’s largest independent stakeholder, vehemently opposes Sprint’s buyout attempt, and has sent a letter to the smaller firm’s shareholders asking them to wait for the bidding war over Sprint to come to a conclusion before agreeing to any sale. Crest claims that Sprint’s $2.97 per share offer is beneath the company’s actual worth.

Sprint’s board meets on Tuesday to vote on the Clearwire deal. Meanwhile, the company’s shareholders will vote on the SoftBank proposal in mid-June, though some one Sprint’s board see a potentially better offer coming from Dish.

Sprint’s shares were more or less flat throughout Monday at $7.32, in a range of $7.25 to $7.34.

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